Column: Oscar gala raises funds for outdoor movie festival

By Jennifer Walker

Johnny Farina’s, the former location of the Elgin Street Theatre, came alive in cinematic spirit Sunday night as dozens of movie connoisseurs turned out to watch the Oscars, and to raise money for Centretown Movies’ second annual outdoor festival.

Funds were raised through ticket sales and the silent auction of items ranging from the original script from Bridget Jones’ Diary to a Shrek poster autographed by Mike Myers, which were all donated by the movies’ production companies.

“The night has been incredibly successful,” said gala organizer Jennifer Warren. “The gala is our main fundraiser, and we’ve had a great response.”

Centretown Movies is an organization of volunteers who work together to bring the outdoor Centretown Movie Festival to Ottawa each year. After a very successful opening season, the festival, located at the corner of Bank and Slater Streets, on a lot donated by Standard Life Assurance, shows movies every night throughout the summer in an outdoor atmosphere, free of charge. The festival, which begins June 29, will run until Aug. 24, 2002.

Pam Foster, founder of Centretown Movies, says that in addition to giving the public the opportunity to watch their favourite movies outside and bringing people back to an un-used area of Ottawa, Centretown Movies also gives much-needed exposure to Ottawa filmmakers.

“We show shorts by local filmmakers that the general public wouldn’t see otherwise,” she says. “Filmmakers love the kind of exposure we give them.”

Corporate sponsorship from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the first two seasons enabled Centretown Movies to purchase the equipment necessary for the outdoor showings. Foster says that “With strong support from Centretown, financial backing from Trillium and the funding we raise on the side we’re able to bring the movies to the public.”

The success of Sunday night’s Oscar Gala has Warren looking forward to the new season.

“I am passionate about film, and I love working with this team of people who feel the same way,” she says. “Through this festival we get to pass that on.”